What Does the End of the COVID-19 State of Emergency Mean for California Employers?

In October 2022, Governor Newsom announced the California COVID-19 State of Emergency would end on February 28, 2023. While this will phase out some of the tools the state used in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, it does not mean the end of all COVID-19 regulations and requirements for employers.  Three illustrative examples are discussed below.

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

As employers may know, the statewide supplemental paid sick leave expired at the end of 2022. Following Governor Newsom’s lead, the City of Los Angeles has rescinded its local emergency, which has caused its supplemental paid sick leave requirement to sunset effective February 15, 2023. Similarly, the City of Long Beach has voted to sunset its local supplemental paid sick leave effective February 21, 2023.

Some local supplemental paid sick leave ordinances, however, have remained in place. The City of Oakland is considering extending its local emergency which would extend the requirements of its local supplemental paid sick leave. Additionally, the County of Los Angeles has not indicated when it will end its local emergency, which means its supplemental paid sick leave will remain in effect for unincorporated areas of the county.

Moreover, San Francisco voters approved the Public Health Emergency Leave Ordinance, which provides paid leave for employees for “public health emergencies” which currently include COVID-19, in the city.

Cal/OSHA Regulations and Requirements

On February 3, 2023, Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations went into effect.  The regulations will apply to California employers for two years, except for the recordkeeping requirements which will expire in three years.

Moreover, in 2022, a bill was passed to extend COVID-19 employee notice requirements until 2024. Previously under Assembly Bill 685 which was passed in 2020, if an employer received notice of potential exposure to COVID-19, the employer was required to provide written notice of the potential exposure within one business day to all employees who were at the worksite.  Originally, this notification requirement was set to expire on January 1, 2023. Assembly Bill 2693 extends this notification requirement to January 1, 2024 and gives employers another option for complying with these notification requirements.

Right of Recall

In 2021, California passed Senate Bill 9 which required that covered employers offer employees laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic available positions based on a preference system. This law sunsets on January 1, 2024. Several cities across the state have passed similar right of recall ordinances which remain in effect despite the end of the state of emergency.

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